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Independence and Interdependence: Lessons from the Hive

Adrian Vermeule

Harvard Law School

Christian List

London School of Economics

October 16, 2010

Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 10-44

There is a substantial class of collective decision problems whose successful solution requires interdependence among decision makers at the agenda-setting stage and independence at the stage of choice. We define this class of problems and describe and apply a search-and-decision mechanism theoretically modeled in the context of honeybees, and identified in earlier empirical work in biology. The honeybees’ mechanism has useful implications for mechanism design in human institutions, including courts, legislatures, executive appointments, research and development in firms, and basic research in the sciences. Our paper offers a fresh perspective on the idea of “biomimicry” in institutional design and raises the possibility of comparative politics across species.

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Date posted: October 19, 2010 ; Last revised: October 27, 2010

Suggested Citation

Vermeule, Adrian and List, Christian, Independence and Interdependence: Lessons from the Hive (October 16, 2010). Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 10-44. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1693908 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1693908

Contact Information

Adrian Vermeule (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1525 Massachusetts
Griswold 500
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Christian List
London School of Economics ( email )
United Kingdom
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